By Bejay Browne
THE four municipalities of Paphos have come together to promote a series of events, part of a European effort which supports social integration of migrants living in the district.
Yeroskipou municipality, a lead partner of the initiative “Together – Towards an Open Society”, said in a statement that implementing integration actions for migrants since 2014 has been a priority.
“For the first time, 2016 will see the programme address third country nationals (TCNs) from outside the EU, economic migrants living and working legally in Cyprus, as well as people who live in Cyprus with refugee status, or those with subsidiary protection, temporary protection or asylum seekers. It will also address people resettled or relocated or transported from another EU member state,” said Yeroskipou mayor, Michalis Pavlides.
He added that offering them support services and opportunities to interact with the locals will strengthen their personal development and skills, and familiarise them with the culture and history of Cyprus.
“The municipalities of Yeroskipou, Paphos, Peyia and Polis Chrysochous are partners for a common cause: we want to create conditions for the smooth social coexistence between local citizens and migrants,” he said.
Pavlides added that his municipality believes that it is in the district’s best interest to embrace everyone ‘as people and its citizens.’
“This way we can achieve social cohesion and better prospects for progress and prosperity for the entire Paphos district,” he said.
With this aim, a number of social orientation programmes and educational excursions concerning the history and culture of Cyprus will take place this year.
The programme will host activities and services including consulting and social support services, training to resolve migrants’ daily issues, events which bring together Cypriots and TCNs, and promotion of information and awareness for both locals and migrants.
Intercultural events and support programmes will include social support, street work, English lessons, training and education programmes, computer and information courses.
There will also be a music and dancing event, culinary exchanges, a number of intercultural events in collaboration with “Paphos 2017”, sports events and a multicultural festival for children, as well as a children’s theatre performance covering multiculturalism with the participation of non-Cypriot and Cypriot children.
“The municipality understand the importance of effective integration and this should be based on democratic and universal values, mutual respect and human rights,” said the municipality’s statement.
This will help to eliminate discrimination, xenophobia and racism. “Migrants have skills and knowledge and they are part of a culture that enriches our own. Local authorities play a central role in the integration policy, since they are closer to citizens and their daily lives.”
According to Yeroskipou municipality around 6,500 migrants (non-EU) are working and living in the Paphos district, most of which come from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Syria and countries of the former Soviet Union. These people have equal rights and the same obligations as Cypriots and other European citizens, they pointed out.
“They might have a different origin, colour or religion, however, this is not a reason for the creation of social barriers.”
The programme is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (90 per cent) and the Republic of Cyprus (10 per cent), with a total budget of €115,000. It will run until December 2016.
For information contact 99265851 or 99265871.